John Esposito’s A Book of Five Rings & Laura Steele to perform in Hudson & Saugerties

By Laura Steele

By Laura Steele

The changes in Hudson just keep on coming. First there was the arrival of a thriving antiques business, followed by a build-up of the restaurant scene and the success of countless galleries. The place got its own community radio station and a summer ferry. Now it’s time for nightclubs and performance spaces, budding alternative schools, recording studios and a wave of even-larger creative spaces, including performance art legend Marina Abramowicz’s world-class multi-million-dollar museum, on which work started this week after she raised some $600,000 on Kickstarter in a few weeks.

Hudson is becoming one of those dreamed-of Meccas for hipness, folks.

To this riverside home to Basilica Hudson and Club Helsinki Hudson comes the promising new Second Ward Foundation – a non-profit organization founded by art collectors Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol that lends and exhibits contemporary art and occupies a 23,000-square-foot 1920s schoolhouse being repurposed into galleries, artist studios and a reference library, as well as a 500-person auditorium with a stage that will be used for performance and film events. What with Johnson and Sudol’s connections to such hot contemporary artists as Christian Marclay, Nancy Spero and Raymond Pettibon, its aim to serve as a ground-breaking creative incubator.


In the coming weeks, when Hudson comes alive with its annual Arts Walk, the Second Ward Foundation will present composer John Esposito and A Book of Five Rings, along with a new work from video artist and fellow Bard professor Laura Steele, on October 4 and 5.

Raised in the Hudson Valley, where he now runs Sunjump Records, in addition to his composing and teaching work, Esposito is considered one of the premier new music pioneers of the region. Steele is a photographer/video artist whose practice embraces a multitude of media, including photography, video, performance and installation, and serves as a lecturer at Yale in addition to her Bard duties. A Book of Five Rings is Esposito’s talented mélange of musicians who work through a series of composed and freely improvised music in collaboration with Steele’s real-time video mixing that uses prerecorded images and live video feeds projected on four walls. Audience seating becomes part of it. This first presentation will be co-hosted by Second Ward and Sun Jump Records.

In addition, Esposito, Steele and A Book of Five Rings will be doing a performance on the afternoon of Sunday, October 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory at 169 Ulster Avenue in Saugerties. For more details on the Ulster County gig, call (845) 246-7723 or visit

John Esposito, Laura Steele & A Book of Five Rings, Friday/Saturday, October 4-5, 7 p.m., suggested donation $10;